Pro-Palestinian encampment sets up on UQAM lawn

A pro-Palestinian encampment was set up at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) campus on Sunday.  (Kwabena Oduro/CBC - image credit)
A pro-Palestinian encampment was set up at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) campus on Sunday. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC - image credit)

A second pro-Palestinian encampment was set up by Montreal university students, this time at a Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) campus.

Tents started going up by the science building downtown Montreal on Sunday afternoon — one day before the injunction request filed by McGill University to have the encampment on its lawn dismantled will be heard in court. It also comes a few days before the 76th anniversary of the Nakba — "catastrophe" in Arabic — Israel's declaration of independence in 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinian people were forced from their homes or fled.

The group behind the encampment, Solidarité pour les droits Humains des Palestiniennes et Palestiniens (SDHPP-UQAM), demands the withdrawal of McGill's injunction request, an academic boycott against Israel from all Quebec universities, the public disclosure of all UQAM's collaborations and links with Israel, full divestment from companies with ties to Israel and the abolition of the Quebec-Israel office.

Over the last week, Israel ramped up its military operations in Gaza's southern city of Rafah, considered the last refuge in Gaza for more than a million civilians. Some 300,000 people have fled the city following evacuation orders from Israel, which says it must invade to dismantle Hamas and return scores of hostages taken on Oct. 7.

"As the occupying forces intensify their murderous aggression against Rafah, we, students and workers, refuse to remain silent in the face of the apartheid, genocide and colonial crimes of the State of Israel," said Leila Khaled, a spokesperson for the encampment in a news release.

"We are addressing UQAM, but also the Quebec state and the Canadian state to take action to end their collaboration and complicity with the rogue state."

On Friday Canada abstained from voting on a United Nations General Assembly motion granting new rights and privileges to Palestinian representatives. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country refrained from voting because of its commitment to reaching a two-state solution — a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and in Gaza alongside Israel.

At least nine other pro-Palestinian camps have been set up on Canadian university campuses over the last two weeks, including the one at McGill, inspired by a similar movement in the United States.